Dorf mit Bäumen
Oil on canvas, relined 65.3 x 70.7 cm Framed. Signed 'WOPHEY' (joined) in black lower right, additionally signed in pencil and inscribed in Sütterlin script 'WOPHEY' (joined) 'Liebes Bild verlaß nun Deine Heimat und wirb mir neue Freunde' verso on the upper bar of the stretcher.
This painting, which was created at the apex of Walter Ophey's career, is characterised by its dramatic portrayal of the subject matter. This is achieved, on the one hand, by negating the principles of one-point perspective in favour of polyfocal vanishing points and, on the other, through a Fauve-like application of colour that ignores every element of local colour: from an elevated vantage point, the viewer's gaze plunges down the pink-coloured path, between the acidic green tree trunks, past the blue and orange houses and on to the dark-red church building in the rear centre of the painting - with everything set off against a sea-green sky.
“For Ophey there was a connection between colour and music: 'when you see a few colours taken from nature glowing and you combine them with their neighbouring hues in a tonal-musical way and suppress a chiaroscuro effect'. Ophey often compared his painting process with producing melodies: 'I sing my paintings', he wrote in 1920.” (Stefan Kraus, Walter Ophey: Leben und Werk; mit einem Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde und Druckgraphik, Stuttgart 1993, pp. 145 f.). In the period around 1920 he created several views of villages: these images can be distinguished in terms of their internal organisation into convex and concave compositions (cf. Kraus G 460, 469, 474-479).
The group “Das Junge Rheinland” came together in Düsseldorf in 1919; the director of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, Karl Ernst Osthaus, and the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim were both among its board members. One year later Flechtheim organised his largest Ophey exhibition.
Kraus G 483
We would like to thank Stefan Kraus, Cologne, for his additional comments.
Formerly collection Dr. Richard Doetsch-Benziger, Basel; Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 35th auction 1960, lot 474, p. 212, illus.; private possession, South Germay; Distinguished European private collection